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  • WHO WAS 1968?
    28 Sept 2018 − 13 Jan 2019

    LENTOS Kunstmuseum WHO WAS 1968? Art, Architecture, Society Curated by: Hedwig Saxenhuber, Georg Schöllhammer Loans by Kontakt from: Heimrad Bäcker, Stanisław Dróżdż, VALIE EXPORT, Stano Filko, Běla Kolářová, Július Koller, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević and Goran Trbuljak A decade of eruptions, departures and redefinitions in the steel city Linz. The year I968 marks a turning point that ushered in a new era. Across Western Europe and in the United States Student protests and workers’ revolts called into question the post-war power structure itself, while Soviet tanks bulldozed the Prague Spring into the ground and signalled the end of the hope that the Eastern Bloc would open up to the West. This exhibition harks back to the echoes of I968 in Linz and Upper Austria. Embracing the arts, architecture, music, film and literature, it unfolds for the first time a synoptic map on which key figures and moments of local history – some largely unknown to this day – are accorded a place. It enables visitors to embark on exploratory trips and to survey the rich fabric of relationships and linkages that includes points of contact with international scenarios and trends. Experiments in the aesthetic field were begun with a view to escaping from the cultural stuffiness of the first two post-war decades. The participating artists include: Claudia von Alemann, Ant Farm, Heimrad Bäcker, Josef Bauer, Bill Bollinger, Dietmar Brehm, Gerd Conradt, Waltraut Cooper, Stanisław Dróżdż, Erró, VALIE EXPORT, Harun Farocki, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Stano Filko, Helmuth Gsöllpointner, Timo Huber, Johann Jascha, Martha Jungwirth, Gülsün Karamustafa, Gerhard Knogler, Běla Kolářová, Juliús Koller, Peter Kubelka, Zofia Kulik, KwieKulik, Maria Lassnig, Fritz Lichtenauer, Natalia LL, Karel Miler, Josef Nöbauer, OHO, Yoko Ono, Gina Pane, Friederike Pezold, Cora Pongracz, Chris Reinecke, Martha Rosler, Dieter Roth, Zorka Sàglovà, Dominik Steiger, Petr Štembera, Raša Todosijević, Goran Trbuljak, Tucumàn Arde, Jiřì Valoch, Agnés Varda, Peter Weibel, Hannah Wilke, Jana Želibská, Želimir Žilnik, Zünd-Up http://lentos.at/html/en/4747.aspx

Artists

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Stanisław Dróżdż

Stanisław Dróżdż’s semantic and visual poems resemble the experimentation of the avant-garde, embodying a laboratory of language, signs and images. His early concrete texts from the 1960s, such as Forgetting [Zapominanie], might be associated with transrational-constructivist designs by Rodchenko and Stepanova, such as Abstract Verses or Toft from 1919, and especially with El Lissitzky’s famous 1929 cover for the magazine Journalist. Samples of similar constellations of words, “notion-shapes,” “ideo-shapes,” or “ideo-forms” (pojęciokształty, to use Dróżdż’s term), could also be found in Apollinaire’s “ideograms,” in the work of Robert Walser and of Stefan Themerson, and in semantic poetry as Themerson defined it in 1944. Stanisław Dróżdż elaborated his own approach to the “reality of the language” by expanding it into its material artistic form, from the two-dimensional piece of paper to the three-dimensional space, resulting in concrete poems such as his most famous Between [Między], realized at Foksal Gallery in Warsaw in 1977. This installation of painted words evenly appropriated the entire gallery space by repeating the word “between” on every wall, confronting the viewer with the material substance of the concrete poem, the meaning of the word as such, and the literal experience of standing between the words. This work was realized in collaboration with Zbigniew Gostomski (who designed the font and letters) and is one of the most systematic of Dróżdż’s realizations, being based on the clear mathematical rule of diagonally repeated words—“the rule according to which I was writing the text,” the artist explained. Dróżdż was himself an expert in linguistics, both as a theorist and as a practitioner. He studied Polish philology in Wrocław and also authored the book Poezja konkretna [Concrete Poetry], which was published in 1979 and consisted of documentation and texts from the period between 1967 and 1977. His practice was compared to that of Vaclav Havel and Hamilton Finlay (with whom he was familiar), as well as to that of the Art & Language circle and the conceptualism of Joseph Kosuth, which nowadays seems to be very different from Dróżdż’s approach. Nevertheless, later years also saw both of them work with words in space, displaying them in seemingly similar ways. Kosuth usually displays longer sequences and informing/disinforming sentences, while Dróżdż usually worked with one word or very few words only. Like many conceptual authors, Dróżdż confronted the semantic and optical layers of written signs but did not try to redefine the artwork as such. Similarly to the Polish conceptual artist Jarosław Kozłowski, Dróżdż was deeply inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept of language identity, as well as by linguistics and game theory. These ideas led him to produce his sequences of numbers and numerical combinations in the Numerical Texts series of the 1970s, and are likewise behind his dice and game in the 2003 Venice Biennale project Alea iacta est. Since Wittgenstein defined language as the bounds of cognition, Dróżdż wanted to test it in its possible shapes and functions in space, and in a similar vein: he wanted to analyze its structure, “language’s reality.” His visual book / project Klepsydra [Hourglass] from 1969 to 1990 is a very good example of an attempt to capture the structure of time-space as such, of the time-space of language, and of signs—using existential and differently shaped words such as “is,” “was,” and “will be” to take on the tautological form of the hour-glass. As Dróżdż stated, the way in which he construed the concrete works “was based on permutation: in some texts/poems, the semantic aspect was dominant; in others, the visual. “I take the pen and scratch on the piece of paper—this is how my works emerge. Consciously and in the subconscious. This process is parallel, and the two layers overlap each other.” This, then, is how Dróżdż’s pojęciokształty (ideo-shapes) found their visual embodiment.

 

B.P.

1939, Sławków / PL – 2009, Wrocław / PL

Stanisław Dróżdż was member of the Union of Polish Artists. His poems have been published in numerous magazines and exhibition catalogues in Poland and abroad. Dróżdż graduated from the Technikum Ekonomiczne in Wrocław (Poland). From 1959 to 1964 he studied Polish Philology at the University of Wrocław. He was awarded with the MA diploma on the basis of his published book "Poezja konkrentna” (“Concrete poetry”) in 1979. The book contained works, biographies and bibliographies of Polish authors of concrete poetry. Since Dróżdż´s concrete poetry requires to be shown in space, he started collaborating with national and international museums and galleries in 1974. He was also active animating the concrete movement in Poland as well as organizing numerous theoretical symposiums focusing on concrete poetry.


 

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